Internet has famed many applications that had up to now been either non-existent or taken a back seat on the mainstream arena, and crowd sourcing is one such active beneficiaries as it nows enjoys new found prominence and even globalization. In return its advocates, practitioners and consumers derive depth brought about by the immense range of diverse ideas, culture and wisdom of the crowds.
The practical dimension of this kind of work sourcing involves assigning tasks that are traditionally handled by employees or contractors, to groups of people that hold some degree of proficiency in the type of tasks at hand. Some of the common tasks pertain to developing new designs, content or identifying objects or products among others things, many businesses have gladly embraced this phenomenon on the account of lower payment thresholds, the quality of results derived and the speed at which tasks are finalized.
As the web 2.0 platform changes the way we do business organizations and professional individuals happily embrace the efficiency it injects in many areas of business, industrial and social projects although controversy has dogged these advantages. Crowdsourcing’s ability to invite input and solve problems through group intelligence enables organizations to assume ownership of the solutions provided by the competing crowd.
Participants are rewarded either through prizes, monetary rewards or points that can later be used to redeem items of the participant’s choice, and in other cases it is done as a form of volunteerism with those taking part deriving satisfaction in their intellectual contributions and exploits.
Entities also enjoy the benefits of crowdsourcing by taking attention to the input of the crowd, thus gaining first hand insight of customer sentiments. Crowdsourcing is distinct to outsourcing in that it is primarily aimed at an undefined crowd as opposed to a specific body. Open source production is a group activity initiated by the advocates of the open culture as members of the public, whereas crowdsourcing tasks emanate from particular clients towards an individual or undefined public.
The problem solving capacity of sourcing from crowds has potent uses for non-profit organizations and the government in their broad range of activities such as urban and transit planning through testing public sentiment. The US Patent and Trademark Office implemented a very good example of crowdsourcing as a tool to solve problems on a public scale through Peer to patent Community Patent Review project.
Wide debate has been prompted by the implications of crowdsourcing on the economy, social and ethical aspects, and some of the arguments have centered on the possible additional costs that maybe necessary to bring about an acceptable conclusion to an assigned task that may otherwise attract unsatisfactory contributions or solutions. Others cite the real possibility of a task attracting few participants, global language barriers or difficulty managing a large scale crowdsourced project, extremely low wages have attributed to negative sentiment surrounding crowdsourcing services like Amazon Mechanical Turk, and the lack of written contracts, no disclosure agreements or employee agreements.